Shannon Sweeney is a student at Chapman University and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sydney, Australia.
Since my semester at the University of Sydney didn’t start until the last day of February, I decided to make use of my ‘summer break.’ In just ten days, I attempted to explore the nearby country of New Zealand. While I certainly couldn’t see all of New Zealand in ten days, I think I did a pretty good job with the time I had. My itinerary looked a little something like this: one full day in Auckland, two and a half days in Rotorua, roughly four hours in Queenstown, two days in Te Anau, one night in Christchurch, and a bunch of days in between for travelling. I know this sounds like an awful lot of travelling, but trust me, all the planes and bus rides can be a great way to view this beautiful country.
Auckland is a bustling ocean city interwoven with jungle. Once you get past the humidity, you’ll find that Auckland is filled with hidden gems and so much history. There are so many huge parks within city limits, and once you’re inside, it’s so peaceful that you almost forget you’re surrounded by skyscrapers and one and a half million other people. Rotorua, on the other hand, sits on an elaborate geyser system that is just as breathtaking as it is smelly. The town itself is filled with tourists, but it’s the things found right outside of town that are the real treasures. The Rotorua area contains everything from the Waimangu Volcanic Valley to the Hobbiton Movie Set, and I can personally say that everything is definitely worth seeing.
Now Te Anau is a little different from the other two places I mentioned. It is located on the South Island of New Zealand and borders Fiordland National Park. Even though this town is much more remote and a lot smaller than the rest of what I’ve seen of New Zealand, the sights are spectacular, and I can confidently say it was my favourite stop. The long drive up to Milford Sound is definitely worthwhile, and visiting the Glowworm Caves is absolutely unforgettable.
Overall, I found that New Zealand is a magical place that turned out to be a million times better than I ever could have imagined. Whether you’re trying to figure out where to take your next holiday or you’re in the midst of deciding where to study abroad, there will be a place for you somewhere in New Zealand. If you want to experience the pure majesty of nature, Te Anau is definitely the place for you. If you’re interested in meeting dozens of young travellers like yourself and adventuring with them, I would say that Rotorua or Queenstown would be a nice fit. Or if you’re looking for a nice balance of city life and wilderness, you’ll most likely love Auckland. So no matter who you are or where you’re from, it will soon be time to create your own path. Whether it be in New Zealand or some other wonderful country, I wish you luck on your next adventure.
The world awaits…discover it.